Ubisoft’s new production company, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, has yet to begin filming its debut feature film based on an existing video game series, Assassin’s Creed, which will star Michael Fassbender in the lead role. There’s a definite feeling, though, that once they get rolling, it’ll be difficult to get them to stop. Ubisoft has already announced two additional titles: Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell - starring Tom Hardy - and Ghost Recon - which will be developed by Michael Bay.
The pace isn’t going to slow down after that, either, as Ubisoft Motion Pictures has just added three more titles to their list of planned features (perhaps it’s easier to organize such things when you already own the intellectual property rights).
These are still very early in the development stage, and in one case the game that the movie will be based on isn’t even out yet, but Variety reports that UMP is putting together the following package of film projects and are planning to take to them to Hollywood.
Watch Dogs (occasionally spelled WATCH_DOGS for some reason) is definitely one of the most interesting new IPs being shown at E3 this year, and could be the next major Ubisoft open-world sandbox series for gamers who are growing a little tired of Assassin’s Creed‘s annual releases.
The game takes place in a timeline slightly alternate to our own, in which an attack on a New York State transmission control room leaves 55 million Americans in the Northeast deprived of light and electricity. By the time the lights come back on, 11 people have died amidst the panic, and as a result, a new central control system called ctOS is implemented in cities all across the country to prevent such an attack from ever happening again.
Since the ctOS controls literally everything that uses electricity or an Internet connection – including security systems, surveillance, vehicles, phones, laptops, traffic lights and subways – anyone who controls the system, or is capable of hacking it, is left with a dizzying amount of information and power at their fingertips. The protagonist of the game is a hacker named Aiden Pearce, who uses the ctOS to exact vigilante justice and seek revenge for events in his past – in whichever way the player sees fit.
Although Watch Dogs won’t be released until November, it’s already plain to see that the central conceit is one of interactivity: the ability to control electronic objects in the immediate area and use them to manipulate events and gain knowledge. As a result, the story lends itself far more easily to a video game than it does to a movie, but that’s not to say that it would be impossible to make a decent action movie out of all that hacking action. Ubisoft certainly seems to believe so, as they’ve had Watch Dogs movie domain names registered for almost a year.
Anyone familiar with the video gaming scene is probably aware of Far Cry 3, last year’s entry to the Far Cry franchise and one of the most critically acclaimed video games of 2012. Far Cry 3 sold over 6 million units by mid-May 2013, and recently released a follow-up piece of downloadable content called Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon - an over-the-top sci-fi love letter to 80s action movies that featured the voice talents of Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens) as cyber-commando Rex Power Colt.
Entries in the Far Cry series are sequels in name and spirit only, as each game has featured a different protagonist and a different setting. Far Cry was about a former U.S. Army Special Forces operative called Jack Carver, who is stranded on a South Pacific archipelago and must find a female journalist who was lost when their boat was destroyed.
In Far Cry 2, the player can take on the role of any one of a variety of playable characters, as an assassin sent to an African country to kill an arms dealer.
Far Cry 3, the best-selling game in the series so far, is about a pampered rich kid from L.A. named Jason Brody, who goes travelling with a group of his friends and ends up on an archipelago called the Rook Islands, where he falls afoul of a local crime boss and must fight to save his friends from being sold into slavery.
Many fans are probably hoping that the film will be based on Far Cry 3, if only so that they can see Michael Mando (Orphan Black) back in the role of the charismatic killer, Vaas Montenegro. However, UMP CEO Jean-Julien Baronnet has stressed that none of their movies will be adaptations of plots from the video games, explaining that, “We will create a brand new story. Always.”
If you want to see a direct movie adaptation of the video game’s plot, you’ll have to make do with this incredible fan trailer for Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon:
While the five other titles on Ubisoft’s planned movie roster might be squarely aimed at teen and adult audiences, the company is also planning to launch a new movie title for children as well. As an Xbox One exclusive, they are collaborating with Nickelodeon to produce a new interactive TV show called Rabbids Invasion, based on their series of Raving Rabbids games, which are themselves a spin-off of the popular Rayman platformer franchise.
Rabbids Invasion will require viewers to advance the story using such actions as pretending to throw objects at the Rabbids, pointing toward a lost object on the screen or – best of all – filling the “BWAHH-o-meter” by competing to see who can make the most noise. Parents are going to have fun when their kids discover that little game mode.
The Raving Rabbids movie will be a separate entity from the TV show. The slightly creepy bug-eyed appearance of the Rabbids and their undercurrent of violent insanity would probably make them good horror movie monsters, but sadly Ubisoft is unlikely to take that particular creative direction. The Rabbids are popular video game characters, though, and it’s easy to imagine them becoming popular movie characters (they’re even a little bit reminiscent of the Minions from Despicable Me).
One of the reasons that the Assassin’s Creed movie took so long to get off the ground was that Ubisoft was insistent upon maintaining creative control over development, even to the point of being able to scrap the movie altogether if they so chose. This won’t necessarily make the road to success easy for Ubisoft Motion Pictures, but it’s admirable that they are taking such a bold and uncompromising approach to the adaptation of their properties. It could be just what is needed to help clean up the poor reputation that video game movies currently bear.
Are you excited for the first phase of Ubisoft Motion Pictures projects? Are you glad that the films won’t just be adaptations of the video games’ plots? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Assassin’s Creed will be out in theaters on May 22nd, 2015.